How often do you hear “I have a ton of extra rennet lying around?” Not often. Lucky for me, my friend Tal had embarked on a mozzarella-making endeavour earlier this year and invited a group of us over to join him for a second round. The process was surprisingly quick and simple, and despite being off the grain and dairy I forced myself to try it, just to make sure it was good enough for all of you to make. (What I really mean by that is I ate two cups of it and then made a pizza out of what was left, because if I’m going to cheat it’s going to be worth it.)
How to Make Your Own Fresh Mozzarella
We followed cheesemaking.com‘s method
1/2 rennet tablet
1/4 cup cool, chlorine-free water (most bottled waters are chlorine-free)
1 gallon whole milk
2 teaspoons citric acid (or lemon juice)
Salt (to taste)
6 to 8 quart stainless steel pot. (Aluminum or cast iron will not work)
Stainless steel or strong plastic slotted spoon
A two quart microwave safe mixing bowl
A thermometer which will clearly read between 80 – 120 degrees F
Crush 1/4 tablet of rennet and dissolve in 1/4 cup of cool, unchlorinated water and set aside.
In a second glass, dilute 1.5 tsp. of citric acid into 1 cup cool water and add to 1 gallon of cold milk and stir well. Next, pour a second gallon of cold milk into your stainless steel pot quite quickly to mix well with the citric acid . This will bring the milk to the proper acidity to stretch well later.
Next, heat this milk to 90F. As you approach 90F, you may notice your milk beginning to curdle slightly due to acidity and temp. (Note: If having problems with milk forming a proper curd, you may need to increase this temp to 95 or even 100F)
At 90F, remove the pot from the burner and slowly add your rennet (which you prepared in previous step) to the milk. Stir in a top to bottom motion for approx. 30 seconds, then stop.
Cover the pot and leave undisturbed for 5 minutes. While you’re waiting, listen to some Grimes. They’re coming to Boston in a couple weeks, are you going to the show?
Grimes – Oblivion
Check the curd, it will look like custard, with a clear separation between the curds and whey. If too soft or the whey is milky, let set for a few more minutes. We let ours set a bit more after taking the following pic:
Cut the curds into a 1″ checkerboard pattern and, if a drier cheese is desired, carefully cut and stir this curd to release more whey.
Place the pot back on the stove and heat to 105F, while slowly stirring the curds with your ladle.
With a slotted spoon, scoop curds into a microwave safe bowl. (If the curd is too soft at this point let sit for another minute or so.) We poured them through a strainer
Press the curd gently with your hand to release as much whey as possible.
Next, microwave the curd on HI for 1 minute. You will notice more whey has run out of the curd. Drain off all whey as you did before. Quickly work the cheese with a spoon or your hands, but be careful, the cheese is HOT!
Microwave 2 more times for 35 seconds each, and repeat the kneading as in the last step. Drain off all of the whey as you go.
After the second round of microwaving:
Knead quickly now as you would bread dough until it is smooth and shiny. Add salt near the finish.
Wrap your fresh mozzarella ball in plastic wrap and let cool before eating.
We couldn’t wait that long, so we just dove right in. Yum.